Richie Cole (musician)

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Richie Cole (born February 29, 1948) is an American jazz alto saxophonist, composer and arranger.

Early life[edit]

Cole was born in Trenton, New Jersey.[1]

Cole started playing alto saxophone when he was 10 years old, encouraged by his father who owned a jazz club in New Jersey. He is a graduate of Ewing High School, in Ewing Township, New Jersey.[2][3]

Influenced by Sonny Rollins and Charlie Parker, Cole’s talent and dedication won him a full scholarship from Downbeat Magazine to the Berklee School of Music in Boston.


In 1969 he joined the Buddy Rich Big Band. And after stints with the Lionel Hampton Big Band and the Doc Severinsen Big Band, Cole formed his own quintet and toured worldwide, doing a great deal to popularize bebop and his own “Alto Madness” style in the '70s and early '80s.

Cole has performed and recorded with vocalist Eddie Jefferson, the Manhattan Transfer, Bobby Enriquez, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, Tom Waits, Boots Randolph, and Nancy Wilson aming many others.

Cole has recorded over 50 albums and CDs, including his top hit album Hollywood Madness (1979 Muse Records) and his tribute album to Leonard Bernstein, Richie Cole Plays West Side Story (1997 Music Masters Jazz).

Cole was appointed to the Board of the National Jazz Service Organization and the Board for the National Endowment for the Arts where he served as chairman for one year. He is also a charter member of the International Association of Jazz Educators. In 2005 he was awarded the State of California Congressional Certificate of Lifetime Achievement in Jazz on behalf of the Temecula Jazz Society.

The Alto Madness Orchestra was developed by Cole in the '90s. According to Cole, "The idea of the Orchestra is the concept and sound of an eighteen-piece big band using only seven instruments, four of which are horns. Not only does this have the big band ensemble sound, it also allows us plenty of room for improvisation as if we were in a quartet setting."

Personal life[edit]

Cole currently resides and performs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


As leader[edit]

PRC Records Records
  • 1976: Trenton Makes The World Takes
Muse Records
  • 1976: Battle of the Saxes - with Eric Kloss
  • 1976: New York Afternoon: Alto Madness
  • 1977: Alto Madness
  • 1978: Keeper of the Flame
  • 1979: Hollywood Madness
  • 1980: Side by Side
  • 1981: Some Things Speak for Themselves
  • 1981: Cool "C"
  • 1981: Alive! at the Village Vanguard
Milestone Records
  • 1987: Popbop
  • 1987: Bossa International
  • 1988: Signature
Palo Alto Records
  • 1982: Return to Alto Acres (with Art Pepper)
  • 1982: Alto Annie's Theme
  • 1982: Yakety Sax
  • 1985: Bossa Nova Eyes
Akashic Records
  • 2014: Breakup Madness
  • 2015: Mile Hi Madness

Other CDs
  • Piece Of Jazz History CD (2006) - Altoists Richie Cole and Art Pepper only played together once; for this recording date in 1982. Teamed together by producer-writer Herb Wong.
  • Back On Top CD (2005)
  • Man With The Horn CD (2007) - Features a quintet that included guitarist Bruce Forman and pianist Bobby Enriquez...
  • Rises's Rose Garden CDs (2006) with the Alto Madness Orchestra
  • Profile CD (1993)
  • Kush: Music Of Dizzy Gillespie CD (1994)
  • Bossa International CD (1987)
  • Hollywood Madness CD (1979)
  • Signature CD (1988)
  • Richie And Phil & Richie CD (1998)
  • Pure Madness CDs (1999)
  • Yakety Madness CD (1983)
  • Live At The Douglas Beach House 1978 CD (1998)
  • Tribute To Our Buddies CD (2004)
  • Alto Madness CD (1977)
  • Starburst CD (1995)
  • Side By Side CD (1980)
  • Richie Cole Plays West Side Story CD (1996)
  • New York Afternoon CD (1976)
  • Richie Cole Live CD (1978)
  • Popbop" CD
  • Trenton Style CD (2000
  • Come Sunday CD (2000)
  • Pure Imagination CD
  • Cool C / / Tokyo Madness CD
  • Live at KUVO 2/11/08 (2008)
  • Bebop Express (2008)
  • KUVO Sessions Vol. 2 (2009) Featuring Tokyo Rose Sings the Rocky Mountain Blues;
  • Pure Madness (2009)
  • Pure Madness (1997) (2009)
  • Richie & Phil Plus Richie (2010)
Richie Cole appears on these CDs and albums
  • Manhattan Transfer
  • Extensions (1979)
  • Manhattan Transfer
  • Vocalese (1985) dedicated to Eddie Jefferson
  • Buddy Rich Keep The Customer Satisfied (1970)
  • Best Of Buddy Rich: The Pacific Jazz Years (1997)
  • Mecca For Moderns (1981)
  • Manhattan Transfer
  • Romantics/National Breakout (2008)
  • Buddy Rich Swingin' New Big Band/Keep The Customer Satisfied (1992)
  • Sonny Stitt Just In Case You Forgot How Bad He Really Was (1981)
  • Most Romantic Jazz Music In The Universe (2004)
  • More Of The Most Romantic Jazz Music In The Universe (2004)
  • Jazz For A Day At The Beach (2003)
  • Jazz For A Night On The Town (2003)
  • Eddie Jefferson Vocal Ease (1999)
  • Virginia Woolf (2001) Sigmund Snopek, III
  • Battle Of The Saxes (1981) Sonny Stitt
  • Jazz For A Tropical Vacation (2003)
  • Live At Carnegie Hall Anita O'Day (2010) 1985 concert from Carnegie Hall featuring Richie Cole on alto sax, Roy Eldridge on vocals, Hank Jones on piano and John Poole on drums
  • "Soft As Granite Janine Santana (2008)
  • Simply Jazz Greats (2008)
  • ''You're The Bop! A Jazz PortraitLes DeMerle (2001)
  • "Simply Jazz (2004)
  • Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit (1997) James Van Buren
  • Live At The Kasbah (2004)
  • Peter Lauffer Keys To The Heart (2010)
  • Golden Orchid (2010) featuring Patrice Villastrigo – Vocals, Percussion, Arrangements, Michael Villastrigo – Vocals, Richie Cole – Alto Saxophone
  • Spot Barnett – Tenor Saxophone (Clueless in Dallas), Gabriel Hernandez – Piano, Keyboard, Gene Perla – Bass, MIDI, Percussion Joel C. Williams – Keyboard (Clueless In Dallas), Ken Basman – Guitar, Tyler Mitchell – Bass, Bobby Kapp – Drums, Vocals, Harmonica Oscar Laun – Bongos (Clueless in Dallas) This CD includes 'Ode To Eddie', a 3 song medley of Richie Cole compositions, 2 of which never before recorded. The majority of this CD was recorded in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, after a concert tour in Mexico, then mixed and mastered at Gene Perla's studio in Easton, Pennsylvania.

CD Imports

  • Cool C/Tokyo Madness (2001) (Import) Japan
  • Hollywood Madness (Jpn) (1999) (Import) LTD Ed
  • West Side Story (1996) (Import) Japan; Limited Gold CD
  • West Side Story (Remastered) (1999) (Import) Japan
  • Live At The Douglas Beach House 78 (2006) (Import

As sideman[edit]

With Oliver Nelson

With Don Patterson

With Buddy Rich

  • Buddy Rich Collection (1999) (Import) United Kingdom


  • Johnny Griffin & Richie Cole From Village Vanguard (2004)
  • Jazz Legends Live! - Part 9 (2005)


  1. ^ Provizer, Norman. "RICHIE COLE BRINGS SAX APPEAL TO VARTAN", Rocky Mountain News, April 4, 1996. Accessed March 25, 2012. "On his current CD, Kush: The Music of Dizzy Gillespie, alto saxophonist Richie Cole spends most of his time in the company of a large brass section.... Instead, the Trenton, N.J. native will be in a quartet setting for a live recording on the Vartan Jazz label."
  2. ^ Bailey, Marilynn E. "Cole Bebops Into Greatness", Evening Independent, December 2, 1978. Accessed March 25, 2012. "Cole says he was pleased when he learned he and Johneon had gone to the same high school — Ewing High — in Trenton."
  3. ^ Allmusic biography

External links[edit]